Gracious power (Matthew 9:18-26)


Matthew draws the attention of his readers to the power of Jesus over death and disease. His reporting of each incident is briefer than what is said about them in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. Matthew’s concern seems to be to show how Jesus was the answer to the unusual problems experienced by those he helped in these incidents. At the same time, he is showing the range of people that Jesus helped, because they are added to the list of those who previously were helped by him.

Matthew points out that the incidents took place after Jesus had spoken about the importance of not using old wineskins. It is possible that Matthew wanted to use this incident to show the futility of using useless traditions. We see one such tradition in the practice of professional mourners and others gathering at the house of a bereaved family. We need to bear in mind that burials in that part of the world were carried out on the day the person died, and there seems to be a rush here to get the burial done.

It is not difficult to see that the professional mourners who had arrived in the home of Jairus very quickly after his daughter died were totally useless. They did not come to offer genuine sympathy, but they went through a performance that was heartless as well as useless. Jesus saw no need for them. As far as the woman was concerned, what was there for her in the ceremonial law? Her illness barred her from the temple courts and meant she could not join in the presence of God. All attempts at helping herself by use of doctors had not brought her any cure.

I would suggest that further that Matthew is pointing out that Jesus was not affected by the limitations of the ceremonial law. To be touched by a person with a disease or to touch a dead person rendered a person unclean in a ceremonial sense. But Jesus knew that such divisions would soon be done away with and here he indicates that something new is coming when he comes in contact with people that the old way could not help.The incidents illustrated the blessings connected to his coming kingdom.

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